No fewer than 3.5 million refugee children did not have the chance to attend school in the last academic year, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said.
The UN refugee agency in a report: ‘Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis’ published on Tuesday, called for education to be made a vital component of humanitarian response.
The report said that there were 6.4 million refugees of school age between five and 17 among the 17.2 million refugees under the mandate of UNHCR.
“The education of these young people is crucial to the peaceful and sustainable development of the countries that have welcomed them, and to their homes when they are able to return.
“Yet compared to other children and adolescents around the world, the gap in opportunity for refugees is growing ever wider,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said.
Globally, 91 per cent of children attended primary school and for refugees that figure is far lower at only 61 per cent, according to the report.
“The figure is even less than 50 per cent in low-income countries. As refugee children get older, the obstacles only increase as just 23 per cent of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, compared to 84 per cent globally.
“In low-income countries, which host 28 per cent of the world’s refugees, the number in secondary education is disturbingly low, at a mere nine per cent.”
Grandi stressed that ensuring that refugees had equitable access to quality education was a shared responsibility.
As for tertiary education, UNHCR noted that the picture was just as grim.
“Across the world, enrolment in tertiary education stands at 36 per cent, up two percentage points from the previous year.
“For refugees, despite big improvements in overall numbers thanks to investment in scholarships and other programmes, the percentage remains stuck at 1 per cent.”
Grandi said that refugee girls remained particularly disadvantaged, adding that for every 10 refugee boys in primary school, there were fewer than eight refugee girls.
At secondary school, the figure was worse with fewer than seven refugee girls for every 10 refugee boys, the UN refugee agency said.
“Ensuring that refugees have equitable access to quality education is a shared responsibility and it is time for all of us to put words into actions,” he said.